12 Juillet 2016
July 12, 2016
OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – The Otsu District Court ruled against Kansai Electric Power Co. for the third time in five months Tuesday, in a decision that will keep its Takahama No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture shut down indefinitely.
Both sides are now gearing up for an appeal by Kepco to the Osaka High Court, where a decision could come next year, while the plaintiffs are expected to file further suits.
The utility had filed an objection to the Otsu court’s March decision, which granted a temporary injunction on the Takahama reactors, forcing Kepco to shut them down about two months after they had been restarted.
The court reaffirmed its decision in June and again made the same ruling on Tuesday after Kepco fought the June decision.
“The utility was not arguing that both reactors were safe based on expert evidence and reasonable safety standards, but that they were safe due to detailed assertions directly related to their safety and prima facie evidence,” said presiding Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto, the same judge who has twice ruled against Kepco. “However, the new safety standards haven’t drawn the limits of what dangers should be accepted by society.”
Representatives for the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling.
“Once again, the Otsu court has ruled against the safety of restarting the reactors, especially with Lake Biwa nearby, even though Kepco has said it’ll likely appeal to the (Osaka) High Court,” said Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs.
The case boiled down to the basic question of what determines adequate safety for a nuclear power plant. It has raised questions about the way the Nuclear Regulation Authority is handling safety inspections for restarts.
Tuesday’s verdict will fuel attempts elsewhere to block reactor restarts. The Otsu plaintiffs said they were preparing to file requests in other local courts for a temporary injunction on restarting the Ikata reactor in Ehime Prefecture, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.
A district court has issued a fresh injunction to block the restart of 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in central Japan. It points out that clearing new regulations does not necessarily guarantee the safety of reactors.
The Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture issued the injunction on Tuesday for the No.3 and No.4 reactors at the Takahama plant in neighboring Fukui Prefecture.
In March, the court issued an injunction to suspend the operations of the 2 reactors. This was the first court order of its kind in Japan.
The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, filed an objection to cancel the injunction.
The district court held hearings to consider the opinions of Kansai Electric and residents of Shiga Prefecture.
In Tuesday's ruling, presiding judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said the utility had not given an adequate explanation of what caused the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
He said that the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, based on the new regulations that were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, will not be sufficient to guarantee the reactors' safety.
Kansai Electric issued a statement saying that it is disappointed, and it plans to appeal to a higher court.
The utility also says it will begin removing nuclear fuel rods from the 2 reactors next month as there is a possibility they will be offline for a long time.
July 12, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
OTSU, Japan (Kyodo) -- A Japanese court again disallowed the operation of two nuclear reactors Tuesday, rejecting their operator's request to suspend an injunction the same court had issued over the once-reactivated units at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan.
The Otsu District Court's decision, following the injunction issued in March over the Nos. 3 and 4 units at the Kansai Electric Power Co. plant, would continue to legally prevent the Osaka-based utility from restarting operation of the reactors on the Sea of Japan coast about 380 kilometers west of Tokyo.
Kansai Electric plans to appeal the decision to the Osaka High Court, company officials said.
In June, the district court also rejected the plant operator's appeal to temporarily void the effects of the injunction, with public concerns lingering over the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Tuesday's decision was issued under the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, who made the judgments in March and June.
The March injunction was the first of its kind affecting operating reactors. One of the reactors was taken offline one day after the order. The other reactor was already offline.
The Takahama plant has cleared the post-Fukushima safety regulations, allowing Kansai Electric to reactivate the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors. But their operation was beset with problems.
Kansai Electric has announced it will remove fuels from the two nuclear power reactors in August, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has expressed a desire to ramp up nuclear power generation at home.